For this months Interview Series, we’re changing things up and are catching up with Mariam and the team from BRIDGE Models which is a curve modelling & talent agency. Established in London in 2014, BRIDGE have continued to 'bridge the gap' between standard and plus size in the fashion industry and have gone on to expand into New York. They are passionate about giving models the right platform to be recognised for their talent, not size. We discuss the talent scouting process, brand partnerships and the evolution of the influencer industry.
Please could you start by telling us a little about BRIDGE?
Bridge is a curve agency established in London UK in 2014 and now representing models, influencers and artists internationally.
As an agency we are dedicated to providing the highest quality representation to our models, and an exceptional service to our clients. We offer personal management and career development, and we believe that by focusing on each model’s/influencer’s individual strengths, we can maximise their potential.
What kind of talent do you represent?
We represent a variety of talent from Olympian athletes like Brett Morse, style bloggers like Kelvin Davis from Notoriously Dapper and Image Advocates like Mahalia Handley and Rachel Peru.
What do you look for when selecting / agreeing to represent talent? Any key metrics?
We don’t have a minimum for number of followers, we do however look into the account for levels of engagement and quality of the content. If we feel their style and ethos is right, we take them on board.
How do you scout your talent?
Mainly from social media itself, but we have done some scouting competitions in the past and have found some amazing talent (for both the model and influencer board) like Vivian. We also receive so many applications every week, so it’s a combination of all the outlets.
What is the process of being signed with BRIDGE? Do you create a strategy to achieve the goals/aims of the influencer when they sign?
We always like to meet talent before signing them, and once they are signed it's always incredibly productive and useful to sit together and craft a strategy and plan for the following months. We usually analyse the strengths, weaknesses and also our combined goals and we set targets to achieve these step by step.
Image: Korry Callum for Boohoo Man @bridgemodels
Are there any particular things you look for when accepting campaigns for your talent? How do you feel about long term partnerships (e.g. ambassadorships) vs one-off campaigns?
Our influencers have developed great relationships with brands and clients over time. We take every enquiry as it comes, there are so many factors to keep in mind for influencer briefs like timeframe, exclusivity, total amount of deliverables.. everything varies from job to job. We don’t particularly prefer long term over short-term/one-off campaigns. One thing we always make sure when accepting a job is that the influencer must have freedom to create something in their style. If the influencer does not feel comfortable or it is not something they would want to wear/use/promote we are very transparent about this and we make sure above all the talent is 100% happy promoting whatever the product/brand may be.
Does most of the work for your talent come to you or do you reach out for it?
It’s a combination of both. Through social media we scout new clients and brands and they do the same with us or if they’ve seen our influencers, they’ll reach out to us. As we’ve been in the industry since 2014, we already have clients that we that great relationships with from the modelling board and that have also opened to the influencer market in the past few years.
What’s the best piece of advice you would give to an influencer?
First things first, get yourself some equipment you can trust and rely on for amazing quality images. It doesn’t matter what brand or what price, it does not have to be expensive. But a camera you can trust and take with you everywhere and will deliver in content and quality! It will change everything!
How do you see the influencer industry evolving?
It’s difficult to say, it’s such an over saturated, mass market right now that it’s hard to predict it. I think brands and clients are starting to look for ways to pick out the real people that influence, that can reach a market and that have a bigger sense of community and shared interest with their following.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The variety! Every day is different. The briefs that come in are sometimes very creative and I personally love putting together ideas and helping the influencer achieve this to match the brief. The relationships I’ve built with the clients and the influencers are great and its really fulfilling to see them grow!
In our 2019 influencer survey, we found that a third of influencers have been ‘gifted’ likes/followers. How do you tackle this issue amongst your talent? e.g. has your talent being gifted likes / followers?
It is so ingenuine of the influencer towards the brand and towards her real following. It’s a massive shame that this has become a popular trend. There are many ways to find out if an account has used real followers and genuine likes and engagement, or if they haven’t.
How much support do you give talent? (e.g. how often do you meet with them? Do you go to shoots with them, etc)
Our talent is not only based in London, but also Europe, the US and Australia. We work closely over the phone keeping each other updated on a regular basis. When talent is in town of course we love to meet up as much as we can, we will attend events together and make the most of their time in town! We just opened our offices in New York so we will be expanding the team out there for our U.S board as well.
Image: Laura J Muro @bridgemodels
What about managing 18 influencers must be logistically challenging - are there any tools you use to help you stay on track?
We’ve started using ZINE to help keep track of stats and insights all in the same place. Other than that, we do also use some other platforms that are required for certain jobs for specific influencers but overall as a team we have great communication and organisation and time management is key!
What would you say the advantages of being signed with an agency are?
The knowledge and contacts that an agency has is unmatched to a single individual. Representation of an influencer to an agency really thrives when there’s trust and an impeccable communication from both sides. We know what the industry standards are, we know what is fair for rates and what to be cautious of with contracts and usage rights. We always offer support and guidance for building and growing their platforms as well.
What are the biggest challenges you face as an influencer agency today?
Anyone can be an influencer. On one side it is great and bring a lot of diversity and opportunities to the table to people that might’ve not had a chance in the past, but on the other side, it saturates the market with people with no experience and no understanding of the trade which can sometimes make it difficult as brands will take advantage of this.
I'm Influencer Marketing Executive here at ZINE, where I manage communications of over 200k influencers. I'm a self-confessed coffee addict who is happiest when in the sun.